Product’s DNA with a simple Scan – Idea 69/365

We are back into the environmental and healthy chest-of-ideas lurking in my mind. Today I am wondering about how we can help consumer make the right choice when purchasing their goods. When speaking of food, there are a lot of options for innovation, but for this one I am more thinking of the factors such as travel distance, material and labour.

What if you could scan each individual product and see its origin? Imagine that every product comes with a code or a chip, that will reveal its initial origin. Each of the components and the factories, farms and places that created it.

Let us imagine a simple IKEA kitchen chair. We might have some wood and few metal screws, packaging, paperwork guide and possibly some foam for protection. IKEA as the manufacturer would have requested the wood producer to track their timber from the beginning. So each tree got a unique trackable code and as it was chopped down and worked on, that code extended to include each part of the process. When it hits IKEA as possibly long boards of timber it will already have included the origin, the trip(s) it had to take and the names of the lumber yards and the factories it went through. Similar process would be with the metal screws, packaging etc.

When the IKEA kitchen chair is in its final consumer box it has a unique code, but links to all the other codes from the products that made up this chair.

As the user is considering purchasing the product they can scan it and see origin of all the parts, list of all the facilities (along with social media contact details), the transportation methods and distances, and even dates of each production.

Slowly you could start to classify products with having least amount of transport, or best paid facilities associated with them, or most secure, or very environmentally friendly.

Instead of IKEA being the only one responsible for making sure that it complies to all of the needs of a modern environmentally and socially aware person, the consumer now can support that process, and might even be willing to pay more for a product that complies with all of the latest standards.

PS. this idea demonstrated well to me how we are all coming up with similar ideas. During the Startup Weekend Christchurch 2015, one of the teams originally had an idea on the same wavelength as this one. At that time I had already written a draft of this idea , and the team didn’t end up doing it anyways. But I want to acknowledge that it was very similar. That team ended up with an idea for creating games for kids that would help them and motivate them to be more healthy in the food choice.

Complexity 3 / 5
Viability 4 /


Impact 3 / 5
Estimated start-up cost < $500k

Leave questions or comments below. Subscribe to weekly Idea Email here.

This post is part of my 365 ideas in 365 days.  Read about it here.
If you want to invest in this idea, execute this idea or some variation on this idea – email me!

If you know of similar idea that already exists as a product, let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit: clement127 – clement127 – License 


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